Random and totally unoriginal thoughts …

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum!  Amen.

Saint Thomas the Apostle

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

Yes, yes, yes.  I know it’s been a little over a month since I last posted.  Yes, I know that I didn’t post anything for Saint Aloysius’ Day aka Aloysiusmas.  I celebrated it.  Just not on the blog.  I’ve been in a blogging funk and I am hoping that it goes away eventually.  Like I have been saying of late, I get an idea for a post but it never comes out the way I want it to ergo, it enters the limbo that is the drafts box.  When I signed into WordPress today, I saw the drafts and just deleted them, you can’t revive momentary inspirations.  It’s like trying to relive a specific emotion from a specific moment in one’s life, you can try to imitate it but you won’t get it just as it was.  Such is the nature of time.

Anywho …

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States aka “The Fourth of July.”  For those who are not from the US or who didn’t do so great in their US History classes in school, Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by members of the Continental Congress.

As I was following the proper prayers for the feast day today, it just happened that on the facing page were the liturgical prayers for Independence Day and this though popped into my head: The guys who signed the Declaration of Independence had major cajones.  They had to have realized that by their signing that document, they were literally putting their necks (and the necks of their families) on the line.  In the eyes of the British Crown, they were traitors.  Back then, traitors to the realm were subjected to the most nasty and inhumane form of torture and execution: hanging, drawing, and quartering.

Hang, draw, quarter

One cannot find a “nice” picture of execution but I wanted to include this to show what would have happened to them had things not worked out as they did.

Could you imagine what went through their minds and hearts as they dipped their quills into the ink pot and basically signed what was not only a declaration of independence from the Crown but also their own death warrants?!

Declaration of Independence

Imagine signing your own death warrant.
Imagine the courage it took to sign this wonderful document.
Click for the National Archives page on this document.

What cajones and, of course, by “cajones” I mean “courage.”  It took a mess of courage to do that.

Then I thought: these guys were willing to put their lives and livelihoods (including those of their loved ones) on the line for the belief that they ought to be free from the tyrannical control of a foreign power and that all persons are endowed by the Creator (not the King) with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (an alteration from John Locke’s “life, liberty, and property”), how much more willing should we be to stand up for our holy Faith?

One of the reasons our Founding Fathers decided that they needed to separate from the British was for religious freedom.  Under the Crown, the throne and the altar were intimately connected.  How connected?  The monarch of Britain is the Head of the Church of England.  The monarch = the Pope of the Anglican Church.  Can’t get much more connected than that.

While the Founding Fathers did not expressly mention separation of church and state (“separation of church and state” is mentioned in some letters sent between some of the Fathers), they did think that the state had no place in the establishment of a state religion as was the case in Britain.

However, contrary to what some will try to tell you, the American government was not meant to be exclusively secular.  It just can’t have a state religion and mandate the practice of that religion in its citizenry.  One of the things that made America so different for the time was the fact that one could practice any faith one wanted (or not practice, I guess) without worrying about being maltreated by the government

Oh how times have changed.

These guys fought a tyrannical totalitarian government whose leader ruled by divine right (the monarch was the monarch because God willed it to be so) by establishing a government who got their power from the people.  Instead of the people fearing the government, the government was to fear the people whose most powerful ability was to vote in free and open elections (the sphere of suffrage widened from male property owners only to including black men, to including women … 1920 FTW).

Now, we’re dealing with a government that is trying to put down the very freedoms it was established to honor and defend in the name of more control over the lives of the citizenry.

Nice.

Think about it …

If these guys were willing to put their lives on the line for a philosophy, how much more should we be willing to stand up for the Truth as is found in the teachings of the Church Christ Himself founded?

These guys were willing to die for the independence of the colonies from Crown control.

Are we willing to die for the proclamation of the Truth in the face of adversity that we haven’t had to deal with before?

Or will we just “sit down and shut up” for the sake of being accepted or to save one’s own interests?  Or will we keep quiet for the sake of “not causing trouble” or “not being divisive?”

Because we all know Christ was the great peacemaking milquetoast of milquetoasts (what would that be in Latin?).

Yeah, He would want us to keep quiet, right?

“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)

Yeah … ’bout that … right.

We have to remember that we aren’t supposed to be chummy with the world.  The world is going to hate us who are faithful to Christ.  The world hates us.  Just like it hated Him

He said the world was going to hate us like it hated Him?!  Where?!

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.  But all this they will do to you on My account, because they do not know him who sent Me.” (Saint John 15:18-21)

Oh.  Right.

So we can’t really be surprised that so many persons and groups (including whole governments) hate the Catholic Church and all that she stands with.

And the desire of some within the Church to not be “divisive,” “tolerant,” and “pastoral” (in the wrong sense of the word) has done us absolutely no good whatsoever.

But I won’t get into that rant.

We need to accept the fact that the world isn’t going to like us.  They are going to do anything they can to undermine us and even eliminate us and our influence in favor of its egocentric relativism.

We believe that life begins at conception and therefore deserves to be defended from that point onward from all undermining: abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc..

The world believes that life is only valuable if it fulfills certain subjective criteria and can be disposed of when seen as being an “unnecessary burden.”

We believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and is meant for the unity of the spouses and the procreation of children.  If one or both of those is missing, it is not an authentic marriage but some perversion of it.  It is also an indissoluble covenant between the spouses and God.

The world thinks that marriage is just a commitment based in love (its sense of love … which is really based in unreliable feeling)  between two consenting individuals. (We won’t get into the logical slippery slope that that is).  That commitment can be dissolved when it ceases to be convenient for one or more parties.  It is merely a contract.  Not a covenant.

The government is trying to make Catholics pay for and condone things and actions that are intrinsically wrong.  By their very nature, they are wrong.  They are going to penalize faithful Catholics for practicing their Faith.  If that’s not a violation of religious liberty, I don’t know what is.

And then you get some who are all, “Well, who are the Catholics to be pushing their morality on others?”

Really?  This is coming from the persons who condemn Catholics because they do not believe that gay “marriage” is morally permissible.  They are trying to force the Church to change her ages old timeless teachings in the name of some prevailing societal norm.

I guess you’re only a bigot if you have the nerve to disagree with them but if the tables were turned, then they would still be the ones being oppressed by the big bad Church.

But now I am getting into a tangent.

If our Founding Fathers will willing to put their lives in jeopardy for a worldly ideal, how much more should we be willing to offer our lives and livelihoods for the defense and promotion of eternal Truth?

Now is not the time for being a milquestoast.  We have to follow Our Lord in carrying His Cross, in being spit on and reject, and in being crucified out of love for those who hate us.  Being a faithful Catholic was never meant to be easy.

Sure there were times when it was more laudable and acceptable but it has never been easy because from the get-go, the world has hated the Church.  The only difference now is that it has become all the more acceptable and apparent.  Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in America.

But remember, if the world is angry at us and does everything it can to undermine us, then we are doing something right.  It’s when the world embraces us or vice versa that we have to worry.  The world rejected Christ.  It’s going to reject us too.  We’re are in no way exceptions to that rule.

Christ the King

May Christ the King reign in our land, our homes, and our hearts!

May we never lose zeal for our Faith and the Truth it proclaims.  The very Truth that came from Truth Himself, Jesus Christ.  Christ has conquered death and the world, we have only to persevere through this vale of tears and vitriol to receive our eternal reward that no worldly power can take away.

Keep in mind that many many persons have died for the Faith in the past.  Our time is no exception.  In fact, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said  in 2010 on how much religious liberties are endangered in the Western world and the US specifically:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.  His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

Some say he was being extreme but I think he makes a point.  We are in very dark times when it comes to the protection and advancement of holy Truth.  But our defending the Truth will only reap a greater harvest in eternity.  The days when being Catholic was easy are long gone, people.  Time to put on the combat boots and pray and offer penances like we have never done before.

But do take time to read the Declaration of Independence.  I am kinda disgusted at how many Americans have never read it (and the Constitution).  In order to be informed Americans, we need to have an awareness of our history.  So many times, people tend to be in the bubble of their own time without any reference to the past.  We need to read the documents that outline and symbolize all that is good about our country and try to realign ourselves more with the true spirit of this country under God.

Have a blessed and safe Independence Day!

God bless America!

Immaculate Conception
Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, pray for and protect our country!

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Posted in Contemplations, Culture of Life, Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Mother Church, Batman! It’s Corpus Christi! With the Archbishop! YAY!

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum!  Amen.

CorpusChristiArchbishop

Yeah, that’s Archbishop Vigneron.
Yeah, he’s leading a Corpus Christi Procession.
And yeah … I was there!!!!! YAY!!!!

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (aka the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)

Today.  Was.  Amazing!

Being the deprived young Catholic lady that I am (I am hoping something in the near future amends that …. PRAY FOR ME) … I have never been part of a Corpus Christi Procession before.

Well, if it’s gonna be your first time it may as well be all out.

Since chillaxing with the Pope for the feast was not feasible on many planes, the next best thing looked EVEN MORE AMAZING than it already was …

Why not go to Corpus Christi Mass with Archbishop Vigneron?  You know, the coolest, most epic Archbishop in all of Archbishop-dom (all you non-Detroiters are just jealous).  And yes, I am a huge supporter of His Excellency.  HUGE.  No one disses  the Archbishop in my presence.  If they do, they get schooled.

Archbishop Vigneron invited the traddy young adult group I am in (Juventutem Michigan) to Corpus Christi Mass for the past two years (as in this is the second year) and to participate actively in the Procession.  Well, some of us did.  I got to pound the pavement with Jesus too.  It was quite beautimous.

Mass was glorious.  Sure, the renovation isn’t quite my cup of tea (especially when you see how it used to look … I won’t post images … too depressing) but it’s the mother church of the AOD and there are still vestiges of the old look (they didn’t touch the windows … thank the Lord).

The music was pretty traddy.  More Latin than I probably would have gotten at my home parish.  Heard the whole Sequence (Lauda Sion) but in English (it was chanted well by the AOD Music Director whom I know).  It was overall and beautiful Mass musically.

Liturgically, it was glorious.  Smells, bells (the cathedral rang its bells), Latin (oh yes!), and lace (and lovely antique vestments!)!  I always love watching the MC (who in this case was the Archbishop’s Secretary … a good priest-friend of mine) because he was one of ones who taught me how to be a good MC back in the days of my MCing at my parish.  I saw all the little hand signals and head nods.  lol  It amused me.  And never forget the importance of the liturgical pillow.  Never.

Toward the end of Mass, we had the Procession through the neighborhood around the Cathedral that is a bit rough … just a half cup.  But the homes are beautiful.  I cannot help but imagine what they looked like when the area was bustling with families and the like (it was a more affluent area in the 1920s).  As we walked around the neighborhood, we gave out loaves of bread to persons on the street who were watching us (a bunch of Catholics processing in a largely non-Catholic area can be a sight).  We sang hymns to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament (a majority of a traddy nature … YAY) and were a witness to the faith of the Church in her Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Did I mention His Excellency and the ministers had some lovely antique vestments on?

I did?

Well, they were glorious.  And traddy.  The Archbishop’s chasbule had Saint Therese of Lisieux on the back so I am kinda guessing that it dates from the 1920s when she was canonized.  I also think there is a story behind the monstrance used in the procession.

Procession

Behold. The transcendent aesthetics of Catholicism.
Oh, and behold the Word made Flesh … aka God.

Along the way, there were ladies with baskets of flower petals and they were spreading them about before the Lord. Loveliness!

I think I remember reading that the monstrance used was donated by some member/s of the Fisher family.  The Fisher brothers were a big deal in Detroit.  If you have ever heard of “Body by Fisher” … yeah … that was them.  They were a Catholic family and they did a lot for the Church in Detroit.  The old Archbishop’s mansion in Palmer Park was built by the brothers for Bishop Gallagher (before Detroit was elevated to an Archdiocese in 1938) and it’s the largest private home in the city.  It’s now owned by someone else because the Archdiocese sold it in the 1980s.

What can I say?  I am a Detroit Church history nut.  For real.

I can’t tell you what came over my heart today while I was in the Cathedral.  It happens every time I am there for Mass.  It’s that voice again (no, not that one) that is rather peaceful and yet persistent.  Peaceful in that a feeling of peace always comes with it.  I also felt a kind of surety that I don’t get when it’s just me thinking about something.  This was something that was to happen.  No matter what.  What did it say?  “You belong here.  You belong in Detroit.”

I smiled.  Because really, in the depths of my heart (my “heart of hearts” if you will), this has been a key part of my vocation from day one and it’s not just some attachment to home, it’s a part of my vocation.  I am really truly convinced of that because it’s been a constant thing that has come up in my prayer and meditation.  Just like how my being a spiritual mother/sister to priests has been a constant.  It’s just one of those things that hasn’t changed though I have and my circumstances have.

What also happened as He (and I am convinced it was the Lord) told me this over and over was also, “Stop worrying, Allie.  Do you not think I can take care of you?  If I want you to do something, nothing can get in the way of it happening.  Be patient and trust.”

That is my interpretation of what came over me.  But I think it gets it rather well.

Because those two things have always been issues for me: patience and trust.

Patience because, like so many of us, I want to have things now now now.

It don’t work like that and that reality annoys my impatient self.

Trust.

The big kahuna which one would think would be NBD (no big deal) with God because, you know, He’s God and that is a good reason to trust Him.

But no.

I have to have control over everything and if things don’t go my way … then I get freaked out and anxiety-ridden.  I hate that.

I have to learn how to put everything, big or small, into the hands of God and truly leave them there.  Truly.  No strings.  No thick ropes attached, no micrometer width string attached.  Nothing.  Completely and totally given to God.

Easier said than done.

But He reminds me constantly.

Trust Me.

Trust Me.

Trust Me.

And …

Be patient.

Be patient.

Be patient.

So that’s what I have to work on.  Among other things.

But I know that God will provide.  I need to let God take care of things and just go with the flow.

I mean, at least I am not on the fence anymore.  Like my SD reminds me (my words, not his): “If you were to get off on the wrong side of the fence, the Lord would just pick you up and put you on the right side in His own way.”

Being God, He can do that.

I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me.  I really am.  That’s probably another reason why those two issues have been so pronounced of late.  I am so excited about what the Lord want to do through me for His Church that I want it all to happen now!  I am so anxious to see what He wants me to do that I want to get everything in order NOW and take care of it NOW so I can get going NOW.

I don’t work like that and I need to realize that and embrace the great and beautiful mystery that is God’s gradual revelation of His will in my life.

All right, I still have to get ready for bed.  Like Imma get any sleep?  HA!  I am so excited about this whole thing.  I am just beaten down with Church lady gids.

Speaking of “Church lady gids,” here is another reason why I probably shan’t get much sleep tonight:

ArchbishopAndMe

Honored and blessed am I.

Yeah.  Now I am totes legit.  Ignoring the windswept hair, crooked veil, and Our Lady of Good Counsel (lovingly) creeping up my neck.  The veil is a mess (and my hair too) because this was after the Procession and it was rather windy at times.  I nearly lost my veil (which was bobby-pinned well thanks to a random lady who helped my OCD self get it just so) at one point during the walk around the block.  I think my heart stopped when I felt that gust of wind and the lace vacate the top of my head.  Thank God for my cat-like reflexes and the lady next to me who saw my ninja-quickness grabbing for the flying piece of Catholic lady lace.

This alone made my day (besides everything else).  Archbishop Vigneron is such a wonderful, humble, and prayerful man.  I am so thankful to the Lord that He deigned that he come back to lead the Church of Detroit.  🙂

All right.  Time to get ready for bed.  I hope you all had a very blessed Corpus Christi!  Remember, the Lord is waiting for YOU in any Catholic Church.  For YOU.  So spend some time with Him.  Pray.  Do some spiritual reading.  Or just sit there and spend time with Him.  He loves it all because He loves YOU.  Individually.  Uniquely.  Completely.  Unconditionally.  He wants to touch your heart.  He wants to speak to your soul.  He wants to fill your entire being with His infinite love and mercy.  All you have to do is LET HIM.

Nighty night!

Posted in Church Lady Stuff, Contemplations, Detroit Stuff, Feast Days, Musings, Prayer, The Church Year, Vocation and Discernment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

O hai there. Yeah. I am still here. Sorry ’bout that.

J.M.J.
A.M.D.G.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum! Amen.

Saint Justin, Martyr (First Saturday!)

I know.  I know.  I have basically fallen off the face of the Earth.  Even when I do post, it’s not that much.  Imma be honest with y’all here: I’ve been in a funk.  Actually, really, it’s been more that I have had post ideas and had them formed in my mind but then when I go to put them down (when I think of it), I don’t like how they turn out.  I know I have the tendency (constant tendency) to essay the pixels out of your monitors but if Imma rant I want to rant for a reason.  My SD, confessor, and friends put up with my ranting tangents enough.  lol

Let’s just say I need a “spiritual  disk cleanup and defrag” (aka silent retreat).  I can be rather picky when it comes to retreat because of some experiences I have had with them in the past.  In high school, the mandated retreats were nothing but ego-fluffing 70s-style.  We sat in circles and threw balls of yarn to each other naming qualities in others that we liked making a “unity web.”  We sat in a circle (there is a lot of circle-sitting … blargh) and did crude self portraits on balloons.  I wish I was joking.  We would have prayer time where we would … you guessed it … sit in a circle and talked about our feelings about God (one time, the candle nearly caught the crucifix on fire … that would have been traumatic).

One time, we went out to a Taco Hut (Taco Bell-Pizza Hut combo) and some of the girls were late for the bus and when they were found one threw her pseudo-Mexican (I used to eat a whole Crunch Wrap Supreme combo side taco and all in two minutes flat during my Powderpuff football days) at the bus window and the guy in charge was cool with it.  Yeah.  No discipline at all from him.  *facepalm*

Anywho …

So I am rather particular when it comes to retreats.  I don’t like touchy-feely because HS left a nasty taste in my soul.  It’s probably why I can be a bit cold sometimes and it’s probably another reason why I can be rather sarcastic sometimes.

As I usually do, I put all that in the hands of the Infant of Prague and told Him that when He wanted me to go on retreat, He would show me.  Because He will.  He hasn’t failed me yet and I don’t see why He would start now.

Moving on …

What have I done lately?  Well, two or three weeks ago was my parish’s HUGE Spring Festival at which I am the charming Finance Secretary.  I answered questions about the Festival and other sundry topics.  I people-watched.  I went on rides with my gaggle of altar servers that I trained (they sneak up on me, jump on my back, scream in my ear “ALLIE!!!! GO ON RIDES WITH US!!!!,” and then once I get my hearing back, we go on copious rides until they feel sick … I have a stomach of steel.).  I made four fancy Rosaries that persons had ordered through my side business (I make custom Rosaries and chaplets).  I played several rounds of bingo and made no money.  I drank with a priest.  I watched a Wings game while arrayed in all my Red Wings swag (we actually won that game!).  I did some outreach with our Vicariate’s young adult group.  I slept sitting up.  I got to indulge my church lady-self when I set up for our midnight Mass for Festival workers (I don’t get to do that much anymore).  I prayed my Office on my laptop.  I also got to eat bacon on Friday (my SD gave me an alternate penance) … it’s a big deal when I eat meat on Fridays because I can be rather exacting when it comes to my Friday abstinence.  Oh, and I got a delightfully awkward Festival tan on my wrists so that one can see that I was wearing a watch and a bracelet on either wrist all weekend.  Hoping to even that out soon.

Now, I am just doing stuff to get ready for my upcoming semester in grad school (Pleeeeeez, God).  If you could pray for me, that would be quite appreciated.

Lest this post turn into an uber post, Imma start a new one on the actual topic I wanted to write on right now.

Again, I apologize for the lack of activity.  If you ever, for some reason, want to know what I am thinking or am up to: check out my Twitter.  Follow me!  I post lots of stuff on there!  Lots of links and randomness so it’s basically this blog but updated daily and many times a day usually.

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Finally … a post!

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum!  Amen!

Christus resurrexit!  Alleluia!
Vere resurrexit! Alleluia!

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

I wrote a post over at Defend Us in Battle where I guest blog on occasion … do click here to read mine post on my reaction to Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit’s epic statement about pro-same sex “marriage” “Catholics” receiving Communion.

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What Saint Thérèse taught me about spiritual motherhood

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum!  Amen.

Saint Therese Chalice

One of my favorite photos of Saint Thérèse.
Among her jobs at the Lisieux Carmel, she was sacristan for the convent Mass.

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

When I finished The Imitation of Christ a few weeks ago, I needed another book to move onto for my period of spiritual reading I “do” after I pray Office of Readings and Lauds before morning Mass.

BTW, if you haven’t read The Imitation of Christ, you should, it’s a spiritual classic and I regret that I didn’t read it sooner.  It seemed like every time I read it, even if it was just a couple sections, it was like the text was written for me.  Every single time, something touched my heart.

I looked through my books to see which one caught my eye.  That’s really how I picked out Imitation, besides the fact that some had recommended it in the past.  I literally scan the bindings of the books on my shelves and see which one piques my interest.

The one that caught my attention was this one …

Maurice and Therese

Click the image to look it over on Amazon (and I get a cut to help with grad school savings and such).

I have had it on my bookshelf for a few years.  I got it for Christmas when I was still in college (my grandparents usually pick stuff off my Amazon list and this was on it) because I had heard a friend talking about it or I saw it on her bookshelf and found it intriguing (not enough to actually read it then apparently).

Before I started reading, being the research nut that I am (I love writing papers … yeah, I am that kind of person), I googled the book to see what others thought of it.

One of the sites to which I was referred was from a blog that I follow, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests.  It specifically directed me to this post.  As I was reading this post, it became clear to me that I had picked the right book for my morning spiritual reading.

As I started reading it, my feelings were confirmed.  This is a truly beautiful read.

(Update: I finished it Thursday night at an impromptu trip to Adoration at my parish … YAY!)

Reading this makes me realize that my selecting Saint Thérèse for my Confirmation patroness was not: a.) a fluke (I have learned that there is no such thing as a “fluke”), b.) just because it was the name (French form) of my aunt whom I never met because she died when she was 16, and c.) because when we were picking out patrons for Confirmation, we were not allowed to pick names of saints of the opposite sex (a practice that has thankfully ended since my time).

I also must confess that while I did have an awareness of the life of Saint Thérèse then, I am only starting to appreciate her now.

Maurice Belliere

Maurice Belliere

The book is a collection of letters between Saint Thérèse and a young seminarian/later priest Maurice Belliere who was struggling  with formation, past sins, and worldly attachments.  It was complied by Bishop Patrick Ahern, who provides commentary and background after each letter.  Bishop Ahern, who passed away in 2011, has been considered one of the foremost experts on the spirituality of Saint Thérèse.

(Update: The letters between Maurice and Thérèse go until her death but then there is also included a couple letters from Maurice written to others describing his life in the mission and his struggles.  Their inclusion is meant to demonstrate how much he had changed from his first letter to Thérèse and how he trusted that though she was gone, that she was even closer to him and praying for him.)

Maurice wrote to the Lisieux Carmel asking the Mother Superior to assign to him a sister who would pray for him and his perseverance in his vocation (he also aspired to be a missionary in Africa).  The Mother Superior at the time was Saint Thérèse’s own sister, Pauline whose religious name was Agnes.  She gave the task of spiritually supporting Maurice to Thérèse, who was on her death bed suffering from the end stages of tuberculosis.

In her consoling letters to Maurice, Thérèse, who was well-aware of the fact that her time on Earth was limited and who was going through a period of spiritual aridity, is what can only be described as a mother to Maurice though they call each other “dear little brother” and “dear sister.”

She gently teaches him her “Little Way” of living a holy life by taking every little occurrence in one’s life as an opportunity to show God one’s love for Him.  She also consoles him with constant reminders that while the seriousness of sins is not to be de-emphasized, the mercy and love of God overcomes the power of sin when it is sought by the soul.  Love is a powerful force in the face of sin and death.

Reading this book is teaching me what it is to be a spiritual mother.  In my years of discernment, one of the “things” I know rather certainly as a part of my vocation is my call to spiritual motherhood, of priests in particular.  Therefore, I have incorporated it into my spiritual life in a unique way.

Priests are our spiritual fathers, their whole lives are dedicated to being “other Christs” for us.  When they offer Mass or celebrate the sacraments, they do so in persona Christi, in the person of Christ.  When we see the priest at the altar, we may see the priest but it’s really Christ using the priest as an instrument (we are all instruments in the hands of God) to make Himself present to His Church.  When we are making our confessions to a priest, we are really making our confession and receiving absolution from Christ in the person of the priest.

As a side note, the priest being an alter Christus is one of the reasons why I think ad orientem worship is so great.  When the priest offers Mass versus populum, even if he does not mean to in anyway, the priest can kinda become the center of the action rather than the actions of the priest being the center of attention.  We can become focused the priest rather than what the priest is doing.  I think it may have to do with the face-to-face nature of versus populum worship.

When the priest is facing the same direction as the people (“backs turned on the people” … ha ha ha ha ha!) … facing God, that is … the personality and person of the priest is taken up in his role as an alter Christus.  I have heard some call the “problem” that arises when Mass is offered versus populum a matter of the priest becoming a “Master of Ceremonies” of sorts.  Like he is the host of the gathering, meal, whatever non-sacrificial term they use nowadays (Yes, the Mass is a meal but the Sacrifice aspect trumps that by a smidge or so …;) ).

Matrix Priest

I have this poster. The former director of vocations for the AOD gave it to me. I think it’s cool.

Priests are pretty amazing.  They pray for everyone pretty much every day.  They have given their whole lives and beings as victims for us.  Yeah, pretty amazing.

They have sacrificed the possibility of getting married and having a family so that they can be full-time fathers for our souls.  And, please, don’t give me the “Priests ought to be able to marry” schtick.  Don’t go there with me.  Yes, I know it’s a discipline of Holy Church, not a doctrine but I am a proponent of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

They pray and make sacrifices for us.  They are spiritual fathers to us.  But who does the like for them?  Do we pray and make sacrifices for them (mindful that no penance is too small to effect some grace)?  Are we supportive of them?  Do we encourage them? Do we love them?

The Good Lord has given me the gift of knowing a great many priests.  Some I have known for many years, others I have only known for a few years.  I am blessed to have a priest in my family: my great-uncle on my mother’s side (my grandfather’s brother) is an Augustinian priest.  He baptized me (in the old-school bapistery at SJA … foreshadowing my traddy-ness?) and he gave me my First Holy Communion (received Him before everyone else so I got to go up at weekly class Mass … lol).  My dear spiritual director is a priest.  All have been and are spiritual fathers to me.

When I hear people talking trash about priests, it cuts me to the quick.  Now, by “talking trash” I mean talking negatively undeservedly and uncharitably.  I try not to have an idealized view of priests since they, like everyone else, are human and prone to flaws.  Of course, that does not mean that we should not call them (or anyone else) on their faults (when done properly, it is an act of charity).

If a priest is preaching heresy or if he is being a milquetoast when it comes to the Truth, don’t publicly decry him or correct him, that does no good.  Pray for him.  Talk to him privately (and make sure you have objective evidence, not “you’re a meanie with your mean-ness!”).

I think my knowing so many priests has helped me to have a more human view of them.  Some people are scandalized when you are comfortable talking about non-Church-y things with priests.  Ha!  I love it.  Some of my priests are geeks so we talk technie things.  Others love Red Wings hockey, so we talk about the last game.

Becoming a priest doesn’t make him less human.  Remember, he was “Mr. So-and-so” before he became “Father So-and-so.”  Odds are, they will still have the same interests they had before ordination.  They will probably still have the same personality and sense of humor they had before ordination.  Just because the bishop laid hands on them does not mean that they became “Stepford Priests.”  Then the priesthood would be boring and altogether interactive (this is a woman talking about the “attractiveness” the priesthood … lolz).

In her letters to Maurice, Thérèse loves and supports him but she also helps him correct his erring ways and thoughts.  He dwells on his past sins, she reminds him of the Mercy of God.  He fears his own inadequacy because of his fallen-ness, she reminds him that the Lord will provide all that he needs to accomplish His will.

That is what I want to do.  That is what I feel called to do.  Thérèse promised Maurice that she would remember him always in her prayers and in her thoughts.  It was obvious from the beginning of their correspondence that Maurice had a very special place in her heart.

While I am still in the process of discernment of where precisely God wants me (kinda hoping Archbishop Vigneron approves of that formation program for consecrated virgins in the AOD), I know with relative certainty that spiritual motherhood for priests is part of my vocation, no matter where it may lead me.

Furthermore, I, like Thérèse, feel called to “adopt” a couple specific priests to be spiritual sons/brothers of mine for whom I will offer special prayers and penances   The more I have prayed about this, the more it “feels” right.  I just need the Lord to show me who I am to take as such.  He will do so as and when he sees fit.

Even if I do not end up being a biological mother, I can always be a spiritual mother and I think that being a spiritual mother of priests can yield much grace for them.

We always have to remember that after Our Lord and Our Lady, the Devil hates priests the most.  Why?  Because they are Christ’s special representatives on Earth.  When a man is ordained a priest, He is united in a singular way to the High Priesthood of Christ and are thus given the ability to confect the sacraments especially the Eucharist where He becomes substantially present and in the sacrament of Penance where Christ cleanses the soul of the penitent from the stain of sins (take our sins of scarlet and make them white as snow).

Devil in Hell

Click for a Catholic Answers article; “The Devil Hates Priests.”

The Devil hates that.  He wants us to be in Hell with him.  The priest is on the front line leading us to Christ as we fight the world, the flesh, and the Devil.  The priest stands for everything the Devil hates: God’s Love, His Mercy, and His Truth so of course, he is going to do anything and everything in his power to undermine the resolve of the priest.  And the Devil has quite the arsenal against the priest: he will play on the weaknesses of the priest (who remains a human being after ordination, btw) be it his personal proclivities (you know, those ugly rearings of the head of concupiscence), loneliness, doubt, spiritual aridity and darkness, etc..  Heck, he’s attacked priests physically.  I think there are stories of the Devil attacking Saint Jean Marie Vianney (universal patron of parish priests) and Saint Padre Pio.

The Devil will do anything to make a priest fall because then that would mean one less soldier of Christ fighting against Him and it leaves a portion of the flock more vulnerable.  Priests are the leaders and the healers as “other Christs.”  They lead us to Christ and they help us to become more like Christ by encouraging us and by being instruments of God’s Mercy.  If the Devil can cut off even one of those channels of grace, to him, he is gaining an upper-hand.

Of course, we all know how it ends:  the Devil will be overcome by Christ.  Those who were faithful to Christ through thick and thin and followed His teachings as best they were able will be given their just reward.  Those who rejected Christ and His love will be given their just consequence for their choices (God sends no one to Hell, He permits us to go there by how we choose to live our lives).

We must love our priests.  We must pray for our priests.  We must support our priests.  We must encourage them.  We must thank them.  We must encourage other young men to follow after the Great High Priest and discern the call to the Holy Priesthood.

Alter Christus

Remember, without the priest, there is no Eucharist.  No Eucharist, no Church.  We can show our love for the Eucharist by loving and supporting those chosen men who bring the Lord down to us at the words of consecration.

Have you ever considered how beyond amazing it is that God, omnipotent being that He is, deigned to give His priests, in themselves fallen human beings, the ability to call down His Spirit upon simple bread and wine and be the instrument through which He becomes present in a substantial way?!

And people say that miracles don’t happen every day.

Yes, they do.  There is a miracle at every Holy Mass.  God becomes SUBSTANTIALLY present to mankind in the words of the priest.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Well, this post has gotten long enough.  Can’t believe it’s going to be Holy Week!  Lent went by pretty quickly.  Do try to assist at as many of the Holy Week/Triduum liturgies as you can, they are the most beautiful liturgies of the Church year.

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